Throughout LeBron James’s second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, there has been plenty of drama with the team. Whether it was LeBron James using Twitter to call out Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving demanding to be traded, or recently the issue between JR Smith and Dwyane Wade on who should join the Cavs starting lineup, there has never been a dull moment with the Wine and Golders.
Besides the drama with the roster itself, there were even problems at the head coaching spot as well. Midway through the 2015-16 season, with an overall record of 30-11 at the time, the Cavaliers decided to part ways with then-head coach David Blatt and elected to promote associate head coach Tyronn Lue to Blatt’s former job permanently.
At the time, the move did not make any sense as the team was coming off a tightly contested NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors and Blatt, alongside James, fought valiantly in the 4-2 loss as the team were missing two thirds of the Big Three with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving sidelined with injury. But, the confusion would soon fall by the wayside, as Lue, led the Cavaliers to their first NBA Championship, and also the first title for the city of Cleveland in over five decades.
But, despite all of this many people call for the head of Tyronn Lue, especially with the Cavs lethargic start to the season. People were chomping at the bit to have Lue be replaced and bring in someone like David Fizdale (after he was fired by the Memphis Grizzlies) and this author can be included in that group:
I’m gonna start a new twitter trend:
Cavs lose 114-95
Ty Lue’s seat temperature: medium buffalo pic.twitter.com/uVFY0CYOGW
— Evan (@AmNotEvan) October 30, 2017
After cooling down and throwing some ranch on top of those buffalo wings, I realized that I could not be any more wrong about Tyronn Lue. He is without any doubt the perfect person to be coaching this team and honestly, should be considered as one of the best head coaches in the NBA, joining an elite group with San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, Dubs head coach Steve Kerr, Miami Heat’s coach Erik Spoelstra, and Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle.
Besides obviously winning an NBA Championship, the biggest reason Lue is such an elite head coach is the fact that he has backed up the championship pedigree with how much the team has won during his time as head coach. Not only is it how often the Cavs win under Lue but it is how the team does it, too. The Cavs currently have the NBA-record for most three-point shots made during the regular season and the playoffs, the latter which was simply a spectacle to behold:
The constant gobsmacking of teams, on both offense and defense, like the Atlanta Hawks, have also shown that Lue is leaps and bounds ahead of all of the other coaches in the Eastern Conference. Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is considered the darling of the NBA and is honestly a phenomenal head coach who deserves a lot of the praise he receives. But too bad that Bean Town is not instead lead by Lue, who currently has a regular season record of 5-2 and a playoff record of 4-1, where the Cavs decimated the C’s in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Another key factor that plays into Ty Lue’s status as one of the NBA’s elite head coaches is the fact that he commands so much respect from his players, especially superstar forward LeBron James. When the Cavs ultimately parted ways with Mike Brown after a second stint with the team, the front office was torn between David Blatt and Lue when hiring their new head coach to lead them. While Lue had a ton of references on his resume, including one from LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, the team elected to go with Blatt, who had been successful everywhere he coached and naturally the team thought that he would do the same in Cleveland. But from the moment LeBron James announced his return to Cleveland through Sports Illustrated, Blatt was fighting a lost cause as James viewed that Blatt had to earn his respect. Instead of doing that, Blatt bent the knee to King James and in turn, lost respect from other players in the locker room as well.
As mentioned before, despite the 30-11 record and a trip to the NBA Finals, the team elected to terminate Blatt from his head coaching position and replaced by Lue because according to then-general manager David Griffin, “Blatt was not the right fit.” As soon as Lue was thrust to the head coaching position, he and James both were able to bond through adversity, something James had done his entire career and after winning the championship when the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Lue cemented himself as a players coach as well even before he was the head coach as he was the one who held James accountable for missed defensive assignments or blown plays and with the championship title, Lue cemented himself as a coach that James trusted.
This is no small feat for Lue either, as James has been vocal in the past about disrespecting even Phil Jackson, one of the greatest head coaches in NBA history and one of Lue’s mentors as well as Pat Riley after an ugly divorce with the Miami Heat. Even before Lue, it was clear that James did not respect Blatt as he gained notoriety for ignoring a play Blatt drew up in the playoffs against the Chicago Bulls and instead made this miracle happen:
Compared to Blatt, Lue never had the championship pedigree or success everywhere he went which caused the Cavs to choose Blatt over Lue for their head coaching job, despite the fact that it was a very close decision between the two. In the end, the Cavs ended up going with the man who was always the right fit for the job in Lue and ended up with their first NBA title as a result.
As mentioned before, Ty Lue has battled adversity and challenges throughout his entire time manning the head coaching position for the Cavs. Heading into the 2017-18 NBA season would be yet another challenge for him with the team starting out with a record of 5-7 and the team finally looking a tad slow and finally showing the problems with having the league’s oldest roster which caused for fans to call for Lue to be fired. But, like he always has before, Lue responded with to the problems like he always does by lowering his head and figuring out where all the new pieces the Cavs acquired properly fit all answering the same clickbait-worthy questions from the media every day.
With the decision to bring Dwyane Wade off the bench and helping make both Wade and Green into legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidates, along with Kyle Korver, Lue has created one of the best bench units in the league and that bench unit has been one of the major reasons that the Cavs are back on top of the Eastern Conference. His next challenge will be bringing along Isaiah Thomas after he returns from his hip injury but fans should expect for him to handle it just as brilliantly as he handled the Wade and Smith situation. Besides, the last time the Cavs had a superstar point guard return from a serious injury around the midway point of the season they did win their first NBA Championship.
In the end, the city of Cleveland really should not worry about having Ty Lue running the show for the Cavs. While the Browns are yet again the Mistake By the Lake, getting ready to cap off an 0-16 season, and the Indians have become perennial choke artists after blowing a lead to the Chicago Cubs in the World Series two season ago and then choking against the New York Yankees in the playoffs after a franchise record-breaking year the following season, they have a consistent and perennial title threat in the Cavs. While a lot of that is because of LeBron James, the greatest player of all time, some of the credit should also be given to Ty Lue, one of the elite coaches in the NBA.